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Cult Health Sex. 2009 Apr;11(3):331-44. doi: 10.1080/13691050802710634.

Bisexual desire and familism: Latino/a bisexual young men and women in New York City.

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Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.


Families are of critical importance for Latino communities in the USA. Familism - or the cultural value that weighs on interdependence between nuclear and extended family members for support, emotional connectedness, familial honour, loyalty and solidarity - has been demonstrated to reduce sexual health risks among heterosexual youth, yet this relationship has not been examined among Latino bisexual teenagers. In this study, we examined how familism shapes sexual-decision making regarding behaviour and expressions of bisexuality among Latino youth. To accomplish this, we conducted 25 in-depth interviews and ethnographic observations among bisexual male and female youth (15-19 years of age) for nine months in New York City. We carried out a recurrent theme analysis together with the selection of case studies to illustrate key themes regarding familism and Latino teenage bisexuality. Findings suggest that bisexual Latino youth valued closeness to their families by maintaining family ties and seeking their emotional and material support. The negative consequence for those who wanted to keep their bisexuality private is the constant surveillance of the family network. Familism is a complex construct that has a strong potential for providing insights into sexual health practices of bisexual Latino youth.

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